High school student Andrew Barth Feldman will have a pretty cool after-school job to juggle between homework this January.
The 16-year-old, who is a junior at Lawrence Woodmere Academy in Woodmere, New York, has just been cast as the lead in Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen — making him not only the youngest actor to play the role, but the first actual teenager to portray the teenage character ever.
It’s a job that comes at the end of a big year for Feldman. Back in June, he beat out 40 other performers his age from across the country to take home the top prize at the annual National High School Musical Theater Awards (aka The Jimmys).
Turns out, Dear Evan Hansen‘s producer Stacey Mindich and casting director Tara Rubin and were in the audience that night (the show sponsored the 2018 honors). Within days of his win, he was in the casting office auditioning for the part.
“Andrew impressed us all with his performance,” Mindich explained in a press release. “It was clear very quickly that we’d found our next Evan. We’re grateful that The Jimmy Awards celebrate young artists and that they gave us a chance to discover Andrew, as well as so many other talented actors.”
“There’s nothing more exciting than discovering young talent,” added director Michael Greif. “Evan is such a complex role – and one that is difficult cast. But the moment Andrew walked into the room, we knew we’d found our next Evan, and I can’t wait to see what he does with the role.”
Written by the Tony-winning composing team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul with a book from Steven Levenson, Dear Evan Hansen tells the story of an anxiety-plagued high school loner named Evan who is paralyzed by the hyper-connectivity of social media and forced to watch the world from the outside looking in. Trying to improve his self-image, Evan writes himself a letter that is mistaken for a classmate’s suicide note and rides that error to popularity. (The story is loosely based on an experience Pasek witnessed in high school).
Popularity is something Dear Evan Hansen is all too familiar with. Since opening on Broadway in December 2016, the show has become a sold-out out smash, its message of teenage isolation and the importance of inclusiveness resonating with audiences of all ages. The show has won six Tonys and the Grammy for best musical theater album. A novel and a 20-track deluxe edition cast recording were recently released, with Katy Perry singing a cover of the show’s signature song, “Waving Through a Window.”
The show is also currently out on a National Tour, with international productions slated for 2019 — one coming this March in Toronto and the other next fall in London’s West End.
Feldman talkes over for Trensch starting Jan 30, 2019.
“As a real-life high school student, I relate to the character of Evan Hansen immensely,” Feldman said in a statement. “And as a performer, it’s obviously been a dream of mine to sing Pasek & Paul’s amazing score.”
“I’m so excited to get to make my Broadway debut in this show that means so much to me and my peers,’ he said.